The Saitama Seibu Lions announced on Tuesday afternoon that they added two import pitchers to their roster. They are Fabio Castillo and Neil Wagner.
Castillo, who will be 29 in February, has mostly been a career minor leaguer with stints in the organizations of the San Francisco Giants, Texas Rangers, Cincinnati Reds and San Diego Padres.
Most recently he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2017 and was added to the 40-man roster in June to protect him from going to any team overseas when he drew interest. The Lions could have been one of those teams interested in him and may have signed a target they've been wanting for awhile. One week after Castillo's promotion, the Lions signed Stephen Fife as a 6th starter.
When the rosters expanded, Castillo made his MLB debut on September 2 where he retired four consecutive batters. On the following night, he allowed two runs on three hits and couldn't retire a batter, leaving his MLB career with two games played.
In 22 games (16 starts) with the AAA affiliate in Oklahoma City, he went 4-8 with a 4.27 ERA, 85 strikeouts against 31 walks. Castillo spent 2016 with the Hanwha Eagles of KBO. He went 7-4 in 20 games (15 starts) with a 6.64 ERA through 84 IP where he had 60 strikeouts.
"I am very pleased to have a contract with Saitama Seibu Lions," Castillo said in a statement. "I believe this team has the strength to win the Japanese Series championship in the 2018 season. I will see you all at the Met Life Dome."
Castillo is likely to be a back end starter, where the Lions hope to solidify a rotation that has Yusei Kikuchi, Ken Togame, Brian Wolfe and Shinsaburo Tawata. He was assigned No. 47.
Wagner, who will be 34 at the start of 2018, has not pitched in MLB since 2014. He major league debut was in 2011 with the Oakland Athletics where he appeared in six games. Wagner saw significant playing time in 2013 with the Toronto Blue Jays, but fell out of favor in 2014 and had Tommy John surgery.
Most recently, Wagner has been in the minor with the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Mets, where he split the 2017 season between both organizations. In a combined season at AAA, Wagner went 2-1 with a 2.48 ERA in 54.1 innings out of the bullpen to go with 52 strikeouts.
"I'm very excited to be a member of Saitama Seibu Lions," Wagner said in a statement. "Through the 2018 season, I promise to do my best to contribute as much as possible to exciting victories."
Wagner will likely come out of the bullpen where the Lions hope he can be a setup man. The Lions have several middle relief options including Tomomi Takahashi, Shota Takekuma, Katsunori Hirai and Tatsuya Oishi to provide a bridge to closer Tatsushi Masuda. He was assigned No. 12.
The Lions made multiple jersey number changes and also assigned numbers for their 2017 draft picks. Here are the numbers and changes:
Chun-Lin Kuo goes from 12 to 69
Takuya Toyoda goes from 19 to 49
Tadasuke Minamikawa goes from 36 to 59
Daichi Mizuguchi goes from 00 to 0
Shuta Tonosaki goes from 44 to 5
Yuji Kaneko goes from 2 to 8
Fumikazu Kimura goes from 51 to 9
Draft pick numbers:
1st round pick P Hiromasa Saito will wear 19
2nd round pick OF Manaya Nishikawa will wear 51
3rd round pick P Sho Ito will wear 36
4th round pick P Kaima Taira will wear 61
5th round pick P Kaito Yoza will wear 31
6th round pick Ryusei Tsunashima will wear 63
1st ikusei pick Wataru Takagi will wear 121
2nd ikusei pick Masato Saito will wear 122
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